Tuesday, January 31, 2012
It was late - It was dark - It was raining.
The visibility wasn't the best, but I was taking my time and actually enjoying the even slower than usual pace. I was in no hurry. I had no place to be. I had no schedule to keep. It was me - the bike - the darkness - the rain. We weren't in each others way. No matter what else the world was doing at that moment - we were coexisting in harmony.
I approached a side street and noticed a car pulling up at that instant. I instinctively tapped the brakes and it was a good thing I did. It wasn't until my headlamp was shining bright in the drivers shocked face that she became aware of my presence. It was too late, they had already pulled out. If I had not slowed down and pulled slightly onto the street they recently vacated, their first inkling of my presence would have been me sliding, none too gracefully I'm sure, across their hood.
Commuting on a bike is dangerous business. I don't do it cause I like flirting with danger. I do it cause I like riding. I take every possible precaution to minimize my risk. I obey the law. I wear bright clothing. I avoid main thoroughfares. My bike is lit up like a Christmas tree. I ride defensively. I like to think that these things reduce my risk. The operative word is "reduce". Yet despite my due diligence, there are times when the unexpected happens. This night I was ready.
Tomorrow morning, despite the close call, I will once again straddle my bike and pedal away. Given the danger, why do I persist in riding? The answer is quite simple really - The alternative is something I cannot and will not brook!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I first heard it as I regained consciousness from a sound night's sleep. I thought the nearby Air Force base was flying training runs in the early hours. It wasn't until I drug myself out of bed and stumbled to the coffee pot that the true source of the sound manifested it's way into my brain. As the coffee brewed, I leaned against the counter and, in my groggy mind, hoped it would be a tailwind.
It was still quite dark as I slung a leg over my bike and pushed off for my morning commute. As I rode through the neighborhoods making my way to the gym, the presence of the wind made itself eerily known. It was too dark to see it blowing the trees about. I was sheltered by the houses and could not feel it. But the sound - oh the sound. It was veritable roar as it rushed overhead. It sounded like the echo of an angry giant. I cringed and pedaled on. Hoping to escape its notice.
When I left the gym, daylight was starting to dawn. I stopped a moment to gaze upon the James River and the tempest into which it had been thrown. In the daylight, I no longer feared it, but instead was simply grateful it was to my back.
Friday, January 13, 2012
I have been commuting back and forth to work for more than 20 years. During that time, through trial and error, crook and brook, school of hard knocks, bumps and bruises - I've managed to pick up a thing or two. With that being said, I thought it would be a prudent and selfless act on my part to publish, for world, wide consumption, some of my "Commuting Pearls of Wisdom".
To that end, I will be imparting to you, on a, hopefully, regular basis, various commuting tips that I've picked up over the years. We'll be talking bikes, gear, clothing, riding techniques, preparation and the Lord only knows what other topics my twisted mind may come up with.
So stay tuned!